According to a survey from RatePoint, a customer review management service, small businesses may not be giving as much weight to online reviews as they should, considering what other research has shown about how much consumers pay attention to them.RatePoint surveyed more than 150 small businesses, most of which had five or fewer employees. The results showed that 39 percent didn't think their customers read online reviews. However, figures from a ChannelAdvisor shopping survey indicate that 92 percent of consumers read reviews and 97 percent felt reviews affected their purchase decisions.
SMBs are also disregarding the usefulness of online reviews as a way of getting customer feedback. RatePoint found that 50 percent of businesses surveyed agreed on the value of customer feedback, but only 20 percent considered managing online reviews to be time well spent -- in fact, 38 percent disagreed that it was valuable at all.
"Research shows the majority of consumers are reading online reviews and that they play a major role in purchase decisions," said Neal Creighton, co-founder and CEO of RatePoint. "SMBs that are not spending time managing the process are missing out on not only potential customers, but also on valuable consumer feedback that can help them to improve their business."
RatePoint also publishes tips for how small businesses can deal with review-oriented customers in a free eBook, The Small Business Owner's Guide to Building a Great Reputation. The advice includes: Be visible on your website and pay attention to what's being said about you; make sure potential customers see positive reviews and feedback, using social networks and email newsletters where possible; and follow up with customers that provide feedback, especially negative feedback.